« VorigeDoorgaan »
rulers should be enabled to give an account of their charges with joy, therefore it is only left to the people to do it or not, under the pain of a sin; but they are not to incur spiritual censures upon the stock of noncompliance in things not simply necessary or of essential duty. For to compel them to advantages, will bring but little joy to the ruler: he must secure the main duty, whether they will or no; that himself is to look to, and therefore to use all the means God hath put into his hand; and for that he must look for his joy, when he comes to give up his account: but that he himself should do his duty with joy; that is, with advantages, with ease, with comfort, being a duty wholly incumbent on the people, and for their profit, if they will not comply, they sin; and " it is not profitable for them,” saith the Apostle "; that is, they lose by it; but to this they are at no hand to be constrained, for that will destroy his joy, as much as the letting it alone.
22. Beyond this the bishop hath no authority to command what he can persuade by argument; he is to take care it be well and wisely, to the glory of God, and the good of his church, to the edification of all men that are interested, and the special comfort and support of the weak. The sum of which power is excellently summed up by St. Paul: “ For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus :-For this is the will of God, even your sanctification: that
abstain from fornication—that no man defraud his brother.” In these things the spiritual power is proper and competent. But the Apostle adds, “ He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man but God, who hath also given us his Holy Spirit.” That is, in those things, which are certainly the laws of God, the bishop is to rule entirely according to the power given him. But because God hath not only given his authority, but his Spirit too, that is, he hath given him wisdom as well as power, it cannot be supposed to be for nothing: whatever he wisely orders, that is of necessary relation to the express command of God, or is so requisite for the doing of it, that it cannot be well done without it, by any other instrument, nor by itself alone. In this it is to be supposed, that the spirit of government, which God hath given to his church, will sufficiently assist, and m Heb. xiii. 17.
n 1 Thess. iv. 2, 3. 6.
therefore does competently oblige : less than this the Spirit of God cannot be supposed to do, if it does any thing beside giving and revealing the express commandment and necessary duty.
23. Beyond these strict and close measures, there is no doubt but the Spirit of God does give assistance: as the great experience of the church, and the effects of government, and the wise rules of conduct, and the useful canons, and the decent ceremonies, and the solemn rites, and the glorifications of God consequent to all this, do abundantly testify. But yet beyond this, the bishops can directly give no laws, that properly and immediately bind the transgressors under sin : and my reasons are these,
24. (1.) Because we never find the apostles using their coercion
upon any man but the express breakers of a divine commandment, or the public disturbers of the peace of the church, and the established necessary order.
25. (2.) Because even in those things, which were so convenient, that they had a power to make injunctions, yet the apostles were very backward to use their authority of commanding ; much less would they use severity, but entreaty. It was St. Paul's case to Philemono before mentioned ; “Though I might be much bold in Christ to enjoin that which is convenient; yet, for love's sake, I rather entreat thee."
26. (3.) In those things where God had interposed no command, though the rule they gave contained in it that which was fit and decent, yet if men would resist, they gently did admonish or reprove them, and let them alone. So St. Paul in case of the Corinthian men wearing long hair ; “If any man list to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor the churches of God :” that, is let him choose; it is not well done, we leave him to his own liberty, but let him look to it.
27. (4.) If the bishop's power were extended further, it might extend to tyranny; and there could be no limits beyond this, prescribed to keep him within the measures and sweetness of the government evangelical : but if he pretend a divine authority to go further, he can be absolute and supreme in things of this life, which do not concern the
o Philem. 3, 9.
Spirit, and so fall into dynasty: as one anciently complained of the bishop of Rome, and change the father into a prince, and the church into an empire.
28. But this hinders not, but that the power of spiritual rulers may yet extend to a further use, not by a direct power of command, or of giving laws, but by all the indirect and collateral ways of obligation, as, of fame, consent, reputation of the man, the reverence of his person, and the opinion of his wisdom and sanctity, by voluntary submission, and for the avoiding scandal: when any of these causes of action or instruments of obligation do intervene, the bishop does not directly bind, but the people are bound : and their obligations from all these principles, are reduced to two heads. matter of scandal;"-in which case, under pain of sin, they must obey in all lawful things, when by accident and the concourse of emergent causes it is scandalous to disobey. And the other is, “ Their own consent:"—for however it be procured fairly, if they once have consented, they are become a law unto themselves, and so they remain, till his law suffers diminution, as other laws do that die :-of which I am afterward to give account.
There is one way more, by which ecclesiastical laws do bind; but this is the matter of the next rule.
When the Canons or Rules of the ecclesiastical Rulers are con
firmed by the supreme civil Power, they oblige the Conscience
by a double Obligation. 1. ΤΟ νομοθετείν ανείται τοίς βασιλεύσι, say the Greek lawyers: “The power of making laws,”-viz. of determining things not commanded by God, or of punishing prevarications against God's laws or their own,—"is granted to kings.” And therefore as secular princes did use to indict or permit the indiction of synods of bishops ; so, when they saw cause, they confirmed the sentences of bishops and passed them into laws. Before the princes were Christian, the church was governed by their spiritual guides, who had authority from God in all that was necessary, and of great conveniency
next to necessity; and, in other things, they had it from the people, from necessity and from good-will, by hope and fear, by the sense of their own needs, and the comfort of their own advantages. It was 'populus voluntarius,' the people came with free-will-offerings, and were at first governed by love, as much as now they need to be by fear and smart. But God was never wanting to his church, but made provisions in all cases and in all times. Of that which was necessary, Christ left in his ministers a power of government: and in that which was not primely necessary, but emergently and contingently came to be useful and fit, he only left in his ministers a power to persuade; but he gave them an excellent spirit of wisdom and holiness, by which they did prevail, and to the people the spirit of love and obedience: and these together were strength enough to restrain the disobedient. For as, in the creation, there was light before the sun, that we might learn that the sun was not the fountain of light, but God ;-so there was a government in the church, even before the princes were Christians, that the support and ornament of God's church might be owned as an effux of the divine power, and not the kindness of princes. But yet as when the light was gathered and put into the body of the sun, we afterward derived our light from him, and account him the prince of all the bodies of light: so when the government external of all things was drawn into the hands of princes becoming Christians, to them the church owes the heat and the warmth, the light and the splendour, the life of her laws, and the being of all her great advantages of maintenance and government. At first the church was indeed in the commonwealth, but was reckoned no part of it; but as enemies and outlaws, were persecuted with intolerable violence; but when the princes of the commonwealth became servants of Christ, they were also nurses of the church, and then it became a principal part of the republic, and was cared for by all her laws.
2. For this first way was not like to last long; for good manners soon corrupt: and a precarious authority, though wise and holy, useful and consented to, was not stable as the firmament of laws that could compel: and yet it became necessary, by new-introduced necessities, that there should be rules and measures given in things relating to the church, concerning which God himself had given no commandment; as concerning order in synods and conventions ecclesiastical, the division of ecclesiastical charges, the appointment of under-ministries in the church, the dispensation of revenues, the determination of causes and difficulties in manners of speaking or acting, and whatsoever was not matter of faith or a divine commandment; in all that new necessities did every day arise, and the people were weary of obeying, and the prelates might press too hard in their governing, or might be supposed to do so when they did not, and the people's weariness might make them complain of an easy load; and it was not possible well to govern long by the consent of the people who are to be governed. It pleased God to raise up a help, that should hold for ever, and when the princes became Christian and took care of all this, that is, of all the external regiment of the church, of all, that was not of spiritual nature and immediate necessary relation to it, then the ecclesiastical laws were advised by bishops and commanded by kings; they were but rules and canons in the hands of the spiritual order, but laws made by the secular power. And now these things are not questions of the power of the clergy, but a matter of obedience to kings and princes.
3. These canons, before the princes were Christian, were no laws further than the people did consent; and therefore none but the men of good-will, the pious and the religious children of the church, did obey : but now that princes have set the cross upon their imperial globes and sceptres, even the wicked must obey: all are tied by all manner of ties, and all can be compelled that need it. These ecclesiastical laws so established, the Greeks call διατάγματα, θεσπίσματα, χρυσόβουλλα, κυρούντα τας συνοδικάς αποφάσεις, “edicts, orders, and golden bulls, commanding or making into laws the sentences and rules of synods.”—The arropáoels, that is the effect and production of bishops in their conventions, that is, they have “jus pronunciandi quid sanctum, quid non, a right of pronouncing what is for God's glory and the interests of religion, and what not :” but the tò kūpos kaì tò kpároc, “the establishment and the command" belong to princes. The synod hath a koloiç or “a right of judging,” but the mikplois or confirmation' of it into a law belongs to